Karate kata athletes look to defend two SEA Games titles

April 19, 2023 - 07:49
This is no small feat, and the kata athletes will need to be at the top of their game if they are to do their bit.

SEA Games

Nguyễn Thị Phương puts on a gold medal-winning performance at the 31st SEA Games last May in Hà Nội. Phương will defend her title in the next two weeks in Cambodia. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI Việt Nam's karate kata (performance) team have their sights set on two gold medals at next month's SEA Games in Cambodia as they strive to defend their titles in the women's individual and team kata events.

According to Vũ Sơn Hà, an official from the Việt Nam Sports Administration’s Karate Department, the team has been working tirelessly to ensure they meet their goal of four gold medals.

This is no small feat, and the kata athletes will need to be at the top of their game if they are to do their bit.

One athlete who is determined to rise to the challenge is Nguyễn Thị Phương, the reigning champion in both the women's individual and team kata events.

While she knows that defending her titles won't be easy, she is fully committed to giving it her all and making her country proud.

“My teammates and I work hard every day to defend our titles,” said Phương.

“My biggest rival is still an Indonesian athlete (Krisda Putri Aprilia). Last Games, I was better than her in technique but not as good as her inner strength. So I have to focus a lot on this matter.

“At the recent Southeast Asian Championship last month, we saw strong threats from Indonesian rivals as usual. But there was an athlete from the Philippines with good speed and technique. She was ‘imported’ from Japan. She will be a tough rival at the 32nd SEA Games.”

The kata team is under coach Nguyễn Hoàng Ngân, a former world champion who earned many SEA Games titles.

Coach Nguyễn Hoàng Ngân watches her athletes competing at the March Southeast Asian Karate Championship in the Philippines. The trio will take charge of a gold medal for Việt Nam at the Cambodian SEA Games. — Photo of Karate Journal

“Honestly, Việt Nam are better than other teams in terms of technique," said Phương. "Currently, Ngân focused on improving our fitness and inner strength so that we could upgrade our performance’s difficulty.”

“I believe that our rivals also prepare really well for this May’s Games. So we must perfect our skills to get the highest result, defending our position.”

Lưu Thị Thu Uyên, who has won three SEA Games in a row in the team event, said: “We learnt a lot from the recent regional championship when we won the team title. The experience will help us to compete better in the 32nd SEA Games”.

She said winning over strong rivals was a part of the job. On the mat, she has to overcome herself to perform best, before thinking about beating her rivals.

She believed that Indonesia was still the arch-rival for Việt Nam, but the understanding and union between the three ‘sisters’ and teammates would help them to win.

The team's youngest member, Nguyễn Ngọc Trâm, is excited about her second SEA Games.

"Last year, I was a newbie," said Trâm. "I was honoured but nervous when competing in the first SEA Games. I was lucky to win gold together with my seniors.”

“This year, I have integrated well with them. Our performance has gotten better and better. I know defending the title is difficult, but we are all determined and focused on ensuring our mission success”

Coach Ngân has watched her athletes closely, correcting their moves and asking them to control their breathing to strike harder and faster.

“I do not create pressure on them that would not make my job done well," said Ngân. "I think it’s better to help them feel that they are developing daily. Being confident and feeling strong will make them the best.”

“I have been on the coaching board for three SEA Games. We did a good job in the previous editions. With our good preparation, I hope we will remain on top this time.”

Karate will be held at the Chroy Changvar International Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 6-8 in Phnom Penh. VNS